The award for the wildest paintjob at the Tour de France had been handed out before the race even started in Copenhagen, after the EF Education-EasyPost team unveil another collaboration between kit sponsor Rapha and streetwear brand Palace.
Having splashed a duck across team kit at the 2020 Giro d’Italia, it’s a dragon for the 2022 Tour, with the switch-out design for the team’s kit and bikes revealed ahead of the Grand Départ.
We’ve had the chance to take a closer look at the Cannondale SystemSix Hi-Mod of EF Education-EasyPost rider – and former Tour of Flanders winner – Alberto Bettiol. It’s as out-there as you’d imagine.
Rapha x Palace (x Cannondale)
The design is primarily a collaboration between Rapha and Palace, though it also extends to the team’s Cannondale bikes.
The dragon-led design will also be applied to the kit and bikes of the EF-Education TIBCO-SVB women’s team and is a celebration of the Tour de France Femmes, the first women’s Tour de France stage race in 33 years.
The race starts on 24 July, the final day of the men’s Tour de France, and will see riders cover 1,029km across eight days, starting in Paris – where the men’s race ends – and finishing with the climb of La Planche des Belles Filles.
The key themes of the kit design extend to Bettiol’s Cannondale, with a dragon and Venus symbol on the seat tube.
There’s a pink-to-white-to-blue-to-purple fade from front to back and numerous other elements of design flair to admire, including a dragon’s claws extending over the top of the driveside chainstay.
All systems go
We photographed Bettiol’s SystemSix but the Italian also uses the Cannondale SuperSix Evo Hi-Mod, switching between the brand’s aero bike and lightweight all-rounder.
The SystemSix was launched in 2018 with much fanfare – at the time, Cannondale proclaimed it to be the fastest UCI-legal road bike in the world.
It’s a bike we’ve also since awarded a rare, five-star review (you can read our Cannondale SystemSix Hi-Mod eTap AXS review).
Four years on from launch and, despite the release of new aero road bikes at this year’s Tour, including the latest Trek Madone SLR and Scott Foil RC, Bettiol’s ride bears all the hallmarks of an up-to-date aero machine, with deep tubes, dropped seatstays and an integrated cockpit from Vision.
In terms of spec, Bettiol’s bike sports a mix of Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 and FSA components across the drivetrain.
The 12-speed shifters, derailleurs and cassette come from Shimano Dura-Ace R9200 (along with the brakes), while the chainset combines 54/40t FSA chainrings with FSA’s SL-K Light crank.
There’s no power meter – we’re told Bettiol doesn’t normally use a power meter for racing and only sometimes for training – but there is a Wahoo Elemnt Bolt computer (also in pink) to track more basic data.
Vision provides the wheelset, with a pair of Metron SL Disc wheels shod with tubeless Vittoria Corsa Graphene 2.0 tyres in a 28c size.
The pink Muc-Off valves are also a nice touch to finish the rolling stock.
As for his saddle, Bettiol sits on a Prologo Scratch M5 with carbon rails.
And finally, he uses Wahoo Speedplay Aero pedals, which have a single-sided design – unlike the regular Wahoo Speedplay pedals.
There’s the usual Speedplay interface to clip into on one side, and a dimpled, aero-profiled cover on the other.